A Few Words for Parents Who Home Schooled

This is a companion post to the one I wrote to children who were home schooled. I would encourage you to read them both as they balance each other out. I was home schooled and I am currently homeschooling so I have been on both ends of these blog posts. This will apply to a lot of parents, but I address it to those who home schooled. 

This is what I would say to parents who home schooled.

First, the problems you see in the life of your grown children are your fault. It is not only your fault. Your children have a sin nature. But you played a significant role in shaping the sins of your children. This is a hard truth that we would rather ignore. Many home schooling parents have a high view of their responsibility in raising their children when they are at home, but refuse to accept responsibility for how children behave when they leave. They are your children. You raised them. They learned how to think and act from you. If you see things in your grown children that you don’t like then look in the mirror and repent. For what you see in them more than likely came from you.

Second, when a child leaves the home your role as a parent shifts dramatically. You need to let them go and live their life. Homeschooling parents often want to keep telling their children what to do after they are grown. This is particularly devastating for men. How can he lead his home when dad still orders him around? How can his wife respect him when he is constantly bending to what mom says? How can a wife make decisions for her family if she has to check with mom all the time? Grown children should respect their parents. But respect does not equal obedience.  A man is supposed to leave his father and mother. Your grown children should have the freedom to disagree with you and make different choices. They need to know they have this freedom. You should not make them feel guilty for exercising this freedom. You can offer counsel when asked, but that counsel should come with no strings attached. In short, when you children leave your home they are free from your authority and ideally they should probably be relatively free of your authority before they leave the home.

Third, just because your children make different choices than you does not mean they have gone off the deep end.  Home school parents often have precise ideas about how things should be done. When a grown child deviates from this it can cause anxiety.  But in many cases this anxiety is unwarranted. Just because your child uses a different school schedule than you did does not mean they are going to leave the faith. Just because they go to the home school co-op and you didn’t does not mean they have gone liberal. We could go on and on with this list talking about school curriculum, vaccines, where to give birth, how they dress, what they allow their children to watch, how they celebrate holidays, what type of church they attend, etc. You made the choices you thought were best as you raised your children. Now your children must do the same. Just because they choose differently does not mean they have rejected you, their upbringing, or God. In fact, you should expect them to make different choices. You should expect them to outgrow you, unless you got everything perfect. There should be times where you look at your children, smile, and say, “I wish I had done that.”

Fourth, admit to your grown children where you failed them. What mistakes did you make? What would you have done differently? How did you fail to love them? How did you fail to follow the Scriptures? How did you fail to love Christ? I am not encouraging you to call them weekly and tell them what a bad parent you were like some sappy episode of Oprah. What I am encouraging is sitting down and saying, “Son, I wish I had done this and here is why.” Or “Daughter, I thought I was right here, but I was wrong. I don’t want you to make the same mistakes.” Or, “Son, I sinned against you by not doing…Please forgive me for this.” This is Christianity 101. Confess your sins one to another. By the way, this is a lot easier to do with your grown children if you did it with them when they were young.

Fifth, trust the Lord with your grown children. You are not God.  He is powerful, mighty, and sovereign. You are not. In many ways, your work is done. That can be terrifying, if you are trusting in your work. Don’t do that. Rest in His goodness. Rest in the promises in His Word. Rest in the finished work of Christ. Seek the throne of grace on behalf of your children. Many home schooling parents become fearful and anxious when their children leave the home. This is understandable, but shows a lack of trust in God. Look to Christ and trust that if your children are looking to Him too then all will be well. (Memorizing Heidelberg Catechism questions 26-28 might help with your anxiety.)

Sixth, give thanks to the Lord for your grown children, their spouses, and your grandchildren.  I do not mean be thankful in your hearts. Tell them you appreciate them. Magnify their achievements. Glory in all the good they are doing. Praise them in public and private. Rejoice over the work God is doing in their lives, their spouse’s life, and in your grandchildren. No matter your situation, God has been better to you than you deserve. My guess is that many (though I know not all) home schooled children grow up to love Jesus, His Word, and His Church. What more could you want? They may not do exactly what you did the way you did it, but does that mean you cannot be grateful?

A Few Words for Children Who Were Home Schooled

This article is meant to be read in conjunction with the one to parents. They balance each other out. I was home schooled and I am currently homeschooling so I have been on both ends of these blog posts. I think there is much here for all children to learn, but I have addressed this specifically to home schooled children.  

The world of home schooling has blown up over the last year, especially with the ugly sins of Doug Philips and Bill Gothard being exposed. These men influenced home schoolers in significant ways. This has led to blog posts, web sites, etc., by adults who were home schooled, where they decry their upbringing. Often these articles have good points, but, at times, there is an underlying attitude that can leave a bad taste in my mouth. Here is what I would say to adults who were home schooled and look back with disappointment on their growing up years.

First, don’t blame your parents and your upbringing for your sins and your problems. Sometimes these articles can be summed up as: Mom and Dad left me with a lot of baggage. All of our parents did that. You will do that to your kids. If you see problems in your life, don’t whisper to yourself, “It was my parents’ fault.”  Don’t allow your heart to echo, “If only my upbringing was different.” Your upbringing was fine. You did not have it any worse than anyone else. This victim mentality fits in well with American culture, but isn’t befitting someone claiming the name of Christ.

Second, stop trying to show your parents all the things they did wrong. Often you should make different decisions than your parents. The problem is not making a different choice than Mom and Dad. It is making a different choice and making a point with that different choice. Make the choices you think are best according to the Scriptures, but don’t poke your parents in the eye while doing it. Treat your parents with respect even when you disagree with them or do things differently.  As an aside, grown children should be cautious about calling out their parents, especially publicly. Your parents did sin against you, as you will sin against your children. But grace covers sin. Cover your parents’ sins.

Third, rules do not equal legalism. Just because your parents made you wear denim jumpers or wouldn’t let you watch R movies does not make them a Pharisee. The word legalism is tossed around too easily today. Different rules from the ones you have for your household does not mean you were raised as a Pharisee. Legalism does exist in homeschooling circles. But it should be carefully defined and then proven. Saying your parents were legalists may score you rhetorical points, but it doesn’t prove your point.

Fourth, in most cases your parents were first or second generation home schoolers. They were pioneers. When my mom home schooled me the choices were limited. Now they are almost unlimited. Blazing a trail is different from settling down and building a city. They had to cut down their own trees. There were no paved roads. That means the path was rougher and maybe they got off track here and there. Be gracious and humble. They did a good work by trying to bring you up in the ways of Christ. Was it perfect? Of course not. Were there things about the home schooling movement that were off track? Of course. As 2nd or 3rd generation home schoolers we need to keep building the city, but not with a pride that looks down on those who got us here.

Finally, give thanks for the parents God gave to you. I do not mean a warm, fuzzy feeling just above your rib cage. Tell them how thankful you are for what they did. Tell your children how thankful you are for your parents. Call them often and tell them of your love. Speak well of them in public and private. All of us could find things wrong with our parents. All of us could snipe and pick and bite them. But as Christians is that what we are supposed to do? Doesn’t love cover a multitude of sins? Would you want your grown children sniping at you that way? Didn’t the same God who sent His Son to deliver you send those parents to raise you? Be grateful for what they gave you, not bitter over what they didn’t.